How to give apprenticeships the platform they deserve in schools

Ensuring learners are ready for the world of work and that they can demonstrate valuable employability skills needs to start with a clear picture of the opportunities that are available to young people when they leave school, and this most definitely includes apprenticeships.

Last month, National Apprenticeship Week served to highlight that great success across the sector, however, although there has been an increase in apprenticeship starts from the age of 25, the number of young people choosing an apprenticeship after they have left compulsory education has decreased.

Lord Agnew has encouraged schools to open their doors to include all career paths within their careers guidance. This includes information on technical education to support the reforms and T Levels, as well as highlighting apprenticeships and their viability as a career path for many learners. We’re providing our top tips so that you can ensure that apprenticeships are given equal representation alongside other routes.

Read on as we take a look at how your school can change the perception of apprenticeships and give apprenticeships the platform they deserve in school by ensuring they are an integral part of your careers strategy and your own your recruitment and training processes.

Changing the perception of apprenticeships

It’s out-dated and inaccurate to assume that apprenticeships are confined to a narrow list of job roles. When discussing apprenticeships as part of your careers strategy, be sure to include the range and variety of exciting sectors that offer apprenticeships, for example:

  • Creative arts and media
  • IT and digital industries
  • Engineering
  • TV production
  • Business management and administration
  • Law
  • Financial services

There are many more sectors to explore which can be found on the UCAS website or by taking a look at the government’s A-Z list of apprenticeships.

Use apprenticeships as part of your own staff

Schools are able to access the apprenticeship levy to support your own recruitment or staff development. However, Schools Week reported that “Just 7 per cent of MATS and large academies met the apprenticeship recruitment target in its first year.”, meaning that many schools are missing out on the efficiencies and support that can be offered by apprentices.

There are a wide range of roles in schools which can align with apprenticeships from teaching assistant at level 3, to higher level apprenticeships that can be used to upskill existing staff including post graduate teaching apprenticeships and departmental manager level apprenticeships at level 6.  

Accessing apprenticeships if you do not pay the levy

If your school does not meet the requirements of the apprenticeships levy, you can still take on an apprentice by accessing co-investment whereby the government will pay 95% of the cost of training and assessment, and the employer will be responsible for paying 5% of the costs up to the maximum funding band set for each individual apprenticeship.

Leading by example to change the perception of apprenticeships is hugely important. If you haven’t considered apprenticeships as part of your staff recruitment and development, you can download ‘A guide to apprenticeships for the school workforce’ from the Department for Education. 

Embed apprenticeships in your careers strategy

As part of the 8 Gatsby benchmarks, a set of actions which schools are encouraged to follow to ensure their careers education meets a high standard, schools are advised that they should have meaningful encounters with further and higher education. This is inclusive of apprenticeships and other work-based training. Ensure you make links with local employers who offer apprenticeships across a range of sectors. It may open doors in the future for your school leavers. You should also invite apprentices to come in and talk to students about their own experiences and where they are now.

In encouraging sector news, Gillian Keegan, herself a former apprentice, has been appointed as the new apprenticeships and skills minister. This demonstrates the huge potential for apprentices and what they can offer to the current and future workforce.

Apprentices are enriching the Skills Forward team

Skills Forward has also used apprentices to support and enrich our own workforce. Callum Foley, a customer engagement advisor, completed a level 2 Business Administration apprenticeship with Skills Forward and is a valued and important member of the team. Callum said: “In school, apprenticeships weren’t described as a desirable option, so it was only through my own research that I was able to find out of the opportunities they presented. Since the completion of my apprenticeship I have received full employment from the business and I really love my job. As a result of my continued personal progression, I have now been given the opportunity to undertake my level 4 qualification in leadership and management. I would recommend an apprenticeship to anybody who has the slightest interest and they can change your life, believe me.”

If you want to find out more about supporting employability skills of young people, you can read our Careers Week blog from Daniel Howard.

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